Shopping Day(s)

With a baby arriving any day now (my wife is past her due date), I’ve been hesitant to do much meal planning. I don’t want to be in the hospital fretting about that whole chicken in the fridge.

As a result, I’ve been grocery shopping on a day-to-day basis. I have to say: it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. While shopping more frequently can mean more driving and gas consumption, I’m lucky that my grocery store is only a quarter-mile away (I often bike there).

photo by Jayna (via Creative Commons)Plus, there are some real benefits to shopping more often. You can really buy only what you need. If you know you’ll be back soon, there’s no reason to make speculative purchases you may not use.

Shopping daily enables you to find produce that’s perfectly ripe. There’s no gambling on whether an avocado will ripen in time (or at all). And plotting household banana demand against ripening speed is easier when you’re only planning for a day or two.

Finally, you can see what ingredients look the freshest or what you feel like eating that night and go from there. We usually don’t waste foods we’re really in the mood to eat.

On the downside, you can’t make anything that takes too much prep time and you might get sick of going to the store so often. In addition, it probably tales longer to plan one dinner every day than it does to plan five or seven at once.

This vaguely European method, what some call a “marketplace” approach, works best in urban settings where you can walk to the market. But many of us drive to get our food. That’s why you have to find the solution that works best for you. Consider where you live, your schedule and your food prep and consumption habits.

What shopping method works best for you? Any tips on how to reduce waste based on shopping strategy?

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